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Panel
  • Panel
    Talbot, Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury, born 1527 - died 1608
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Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1570-1585 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Talbot, Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury, born 1527 - died 1608 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered linen canvas with silk and silver-gilt threads, mounted on silk velvet

  • Credit Line:

    Presented by Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    T.33F-1955

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This fragment of a wall hanging bears parts of two embroideries, one depicting a sea horse and the other a flowering plant, possibly a dandelion, both bearing the monogram ES. It is part of a collection of needlework known as the Oxburgh hangings. They were made between 1570 and about 1585, the work of Mary Queen of Scots during her imprisonment in England and Elizabeth (Bess) Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury. Bess’s husband George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury was responsible for Mary and she stayed at one or other of the Shrewsbury estates.

Embroidery was a form of therapy and communication for Mary, as well as a conventional occupation for wealthy and elite women. Most of the motifs depicted were copied from the wood-cut illustrations of emblem books and natural histories by well-known authors such as Claud Paradin, Conrad Gessner, Pierre Belon. These often represented sentiments and morals from classical literature and contemporary folklore, and were chosen Mary to express her most private thoughts at a time when all her written correspondence was being monitored by her captors.

These panels of canvas work (stitching over the threads of a coarsely woven linen) are embroidered in coloured silks, silver and silver-gilt thread and applied to green silk velvet. Those executed by Mary bear her monogram, the letters MA superimposed on the Greek letter phi and those by Bess, the initials ES. The existing ‘hangings’ consist of a of wall hanging, two bed curtains and valance, on permanent long-term loan at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk. However these were probably not the original arrangement of the embroidery, but sewn together in the late 17th century. This group of 33 embroideries are the remains of another hanging, now unpicked.

Physical description

Textile panel of embroidered linen canvas with silk and silver-gilt threads in cross stitch. Part of a cruciform panel and part of an octagonal panel are sewn onto green velvet, each with inscriptions worked in blues, greens, pinks and browns with a raised borders of silver-gilt embroidery. Flowering plant (dandelion) and seahorse.
the lower part of the octagonal panel is T.55I-1955.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1570-1585 (made)

Artist/maker

Talbot, Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury, born 1527 - died 1608 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered linen canvas with silk and silver-gilt threads, mounted on silk velvet

Marks and inscriptions

LOCUST / E. SEA
partial inscription on either side of sea horse

ONTINO INTRA TUAM PEL
partial inscription on border around octagonal panel

ES
monogram on both panels

Dimensions

Height: 26.5 cm, Width: 64 cm

Descriptive line

Textile panel of embroidered linen canvas with silk and silver-gilt threads, made by Elizabeth Talbot, Oxburgh, England, 1570-1585

Materials

Linen (material); Silk thread; Silver-gilt thread; Silk velvet

Techniques

Hand embroidery; Hand sewing

Subjects depicted

Dandelion; Plant; Sea horse

Categories

Textiles; Embroidery; Scotland

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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